Kellie's Castle, Ipoh | Malaysia

Kellie's Castle is located near Batu Gajah, and is about 20 minutes' drive from Ipoh....
The unfinished, ruined mansion, was built by a Scottish planter named William Kellie Smith. According to differing accounts, it was either a gift for his wife or a home for his son.

The secret tunnels of Kellie's Castle

Although it has been abandoned since 1926 the place is still shrouded in mystery and there are rumours that the place is haunted.

Kellie's Castle was built by William Kellie Smith, a successful planter in the Ipoh area of Perak. Smith was born on the Kellas Estate in Scotland in 1870, and the name Kellie was actually his mother's maiden name.

When he grew up he left Scotland in search of the rich life he had dreamt of, and ended up in Malaya. In those days there was money to be made as a planter or tin miner. Smith ended up working with a rubber planter called Alma Baker. Baker was involved with clearing forests and making roads for the government in south Perak. Smith joined him and they made good money.Smith used his new wealth to buy 900 acres of land south of Ipoh. He cleared the jungle for his rubber plantation and built a new estate and manor house for his wife Agnes and their daughter.

The house was named Kinta Kellas. Kinta Valley is the name of the area surrounding Ipoh, and Kellas was in memory of his family farm back in Scotland.The house was built in 1909-1910 in Greco-Roman and Moorish styles with extravagant columns and arches and keyhole windows.

The grounds were transformed into large open spaces, with luxuriant gardens, lawns and a lake. It typified a British gentleman's estate in the Victorian era. Smith continued to make his fortune in rubber and also turned to tin,When their first son was born in 1915, Smith wanted a larger, more stately home. Work began on a new wing to the manor, which took 10 years to complete. As it was just an extension to the existing home, there were no servants' quarters or kitchen. The existing ones were connected by a covered walkway.

After completion of the temple, work resumed on the manor house. In 1926 Smith and his daughter made a trip home to Britain to visit the wife and son, as the son was schooling there. Smith had ordered a lift for the manor from Lisbon, Portugal. This would have been Malaya's first manually operated lift. Tragically he caught pneumonia and died in Lisbon in December 1926,His wife sold her interest in the Kellas Estate and the Smith family never returned to Malaya. The son was killed in World War II. Since the estate was abandoned in 1926 not much of the first home is left today, apart from the covered walkway, an open courtyard and part of a crumbling wall from the old wing.

Legends were born, one said that ghost of Smith still wanders through the ruins. Other legends were of secret underground tunnels. But apart from two known tunnels, none were ever found.
The Museum of Antiquities refurbished parts of the castle, mostly in the old wing by replastering the walls and laying floor tiles. An interesting discovery was made in June 2003.
During the course of widening the Gopeng - Batu Gajah road at the 6th kilometre stretch, workers unearthed a section of a tunnel. This 1.5m high by one-metre wide passageway is believed to lead from the castle to the Hindu temple nearby.

The castle is not as famous as the Taj Mahal in Agra, India but there are some similarities, both in architecture as in the story of its building.Kellies Castle is symbol of love, like the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. And in the architecture, there is definitely some moghul influence visible.But Smiths' reasons were no different. He loved his wife, adored her. At the age of 20, it was in 1890, he arrived in Malaya, as Malaysia was known then. He came in touch with an estate owner called Alma Baker. Baker had won concessions from the state government to lear 360 hectares of forest in Perak.

Smith made some substantial profits with his business with Baker. This resulted in Smith planting rubber trees. He also was involved in the tin mining industry, which at that time was at it's highpoint in Perak. In time, he became the owner of Kinta Kellas Estate and the Kinta Kellas Tin Dredging Company, near Ipoh.Now he had made his fortune. It was time to return to Scotland and marry his Scottish girl Agnes.

Anthony's birth was the start of the expansion of the mansion. Smith started planning to build a castle which he wanted to call Kellas House, after his hometown in Scotland.Smith was fascinated by the Hindu culture. His plans were to build his house with similar architecture features as in south India, Madras. For the building he imported bricks and tiles from India. 

The bricks and tiles were imported from India,The house supposedly had a wine cellar with its own hidden tunnel. A bridge crossed the Kinta River which flows in front of the house. The manor was well located, sitting on a little knoll just by the bend of Sungai Kinta, and had a clear, unobstructed view of the Kinta Valley.

Many of the workmen were Indians. In the early 1920s a flu epidemic occurred and many of his estate workers died. The Indians asked for a temple to be built in honour of the deity Mariamman who would hopefully give them protection. The temple was soon built and was 1500m from the house.

He brought her to Malaysia in 1903. In 1904 they became the parents of a daughter: Helen.Smith wanted a son too, but Agnes failed to conceive. Smith wanted his heir to take over his empire in Malaya. It was not until 1915 before Agnes became pregnant again. She gave birth to a son: Anthony. The birth of his son was the start of an even greater success.

He even employed even Indian workers to keep his house Indian.At arrival at Kellie's Castle you can "meet" William Kellie Smith and his two children. Their sculptures are standing on the exterior wall. The one of his beloved wife fell off some years back. The tunnels have been sealed off for safety reasons. The rumour is that Smith's car is parked in one of the tunnels. 

Chalet Mdkb Kellies Castle, Jalan Gopeng, Batu Gajah, 31000,Perak, Malaysia
+60 5-255 2772
Opening Hours : 9.00am – 6.00pm
Admission Fee :
* RM 5 (foreigner)
* RM 4 (adult)
* RM 3 (secondary school students)
* RM 2 (primary school students)

  1. * FREE (child aged six and below)


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